Coates addresses Future Tourism Forum on SEQ Olympic feasibility
13 June 2019
AOC: AOC President John Coates has indicated a decision on whether South East Queensland might host the 2032 Summer Olympic Games could be made as early as next year.
Mr Coates today addressed business and government leaders at the Future Tourism Forum in Brisbane.
Address by John Coates AC
Courier-Mail Future Tourism Business Lunch
Brisbane, Thursday 13, June 2019
The election by the IOC of the host for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games would normally be taken “seven years before” that is, in 2025; however, if proposed changes to the Games host election process are approved in 12 days’ time and there is a candidate ready to put its hand up, this election could be as early as the IOC Session in Tokyo next year before the opening of the Games on 24 July.
I will explain.
Since Olympic Fencing champion Thomas Bach was elected President of the IOC in 2013, there have been significant changes to the governance of the Olympic movement.
In December 2014, the IOC adopted its Olympic Agenda 2020, comprising 40 Recommendations laying out the strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic movement and specifically concerning the Olympic Games, to:
1. Shape the bidding process as an invitation (no longer like a tender);
2. Evaluate bid cities assessing key opportunities and risks (considering as positive the maximum use of existing facilities and the use of temporary and demountable venues where no long-term venue legacy need exists or can be justified);
3. Reduce the cost of bidding;
4. Include sustainability in all aspects of the Olympic Games
12. Reduce the cost and reinforce the flexibility of Olympic Games management (review the level of services; consider turn-key solutions);
13. Maximise synergies with Olympic movement stakeholders (enhancing the role of the International Federations in the planning and delivery of Olympic competitions).
In total, there were some 29 Olympic Games related changes within these Recommendations.
Whilst nurturing all that makes the Olympic Games unique, the overall goals that underpinned these recommendations were to simplify the candidature process and create Games which are more flexible, easier to operate and less expensive, while also unlocking more value for host cities over the longer term.
I say less expensive. The aim is for Games’ operational budgets to come at no cost to local taxpayers.
As the next step, an ongoing Executive Steering Committee for Olympic Games Delivery was established and produced 118 recommendations or reforms known as the “New Norm”, and which have already been successfully introduced to various degrees by Games and future Games organisers over the past 18 months.
Under these reforms, the Games adapt to the city, not the city to the Games.
For the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games in February 2018, organisers were able to release more seats for the public to keep fans front and centre and eliminate the secondary international broadcast centre – real tangible changes. Thanks to the New Norm, these Games produced an operational budget surplus of USD55 million.
For Tokyo 2020, we have already saved USD4.3 billion through the New Norm –utilising existing and temporary structures, shortening rental periods and optimising test events.
The Tokyo 2020 Games has an operational budget of USD5.6 billion and will pay for themselves, with USD1.6 billion contributed by the IOC, USD800 million revenue from ticketing, USD100 million from licensing and USD3.1 billion from national sponsors, to date.
Under this new approach, 80% of venues already exist in Tokyo, with over 90% for both Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028.
We’re making Olympic Villages more efficient – Paris 2024 has reduced its beds from 16,800 to 14,000.
Los Angeles is using the existing University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) student accommodation for its Olympic Village.
We’re reducing the costs for cities to bid: the average budget for the 2026 Olympic Winter candidates is over 75% lower than for the 2018 and 2022 candidates, and when I shortly explain the proposed future election process, you will appreciate that the budget for bidding for 2032 could be minimal.
This is the New Norm and, at the same time as we are monitoring the implementation of the 118 reforms, they are continuing to evolve.
In late March of this year, the IOC President appointed a small working group for Future Games Elections, with one representative from each of the Continents, including athlete representation. Its objectives are to increase flexibility.
In the lead-up in 2017 to the election of the 2024 Games host, the IOC was presented with two outstanding candidates in Paris and Los Angeles and did not want to have a loser.
We convened an Extraordinary Session to overcome the “seven year before” rule and allow the election of the hosts of two Games at the one time.
Los Angeles dropped out of the 2024 race, leaving Paris to be elected unopposed, and Los Angeles unopposed for 2028.
Now the Working Group for Future Games Elections proposes to permanently allow for:
- an edition-based approach
- a more contextualised model,
- a more proactive manner to approach prospective hosts,
- a more open and flexible mind to innovative proposals by prospective hosts, and
- a more responsive and flexible timing
The IOC should have the flexibility to react to various developments and opportunities, including:
- geographic (climate, time zones, topography, etc),
- strategic (in the best interests of the Olympic movement),
- economic (market-led changes, public/private partnerships, etc), and
- societal (livable cities, health and wellbeing, sharing economy, etc).
Key changes proposed by the Working Group are to:
- establish a permanent, ongoing dialogue to explore and create interest among cities/regions/countries and NOCs for Olympic Games;
- create two Future Host Commissions (advisory) (summer/winter) in lieu of Evaluation Commissions for each particular Games. They will oversee interest in future Olympic Games and report to the IOC Executive Board.
In the case of the summer Future Host Commission, it is to include IOC, International Sports Federation, NOC, athlete, International Paralympic Committee and continental representation and comprise up to 10 members.
Based on input from the Future Host Commissions, the IOC Executive Board will set the strategic framework for host election for specific Games editions.
“Host” will not necessarily refer to a single city but can also refer to multiple cities/regions/states/countries.
Election timings are to be flexible and adjusted to local opportunities, context and needs.
On 22 May, the IOC Executive Board unanimously approved all of these proposals which, along with consequential amendments to the Olympic Charter, will be presented to the IOC Session for approval on the 26th of this month.
As well as deleting the current rule that elections take place “seven years before” the particular Games, the rule that “the Olympic Games are entrusted to a city”, would be amended to state:
Rule 32(2). The honour and responsibility of hosting the Olympic Games are entrusted by the IOC, in principle, to a city, which is elected as the host of the Olympic Games. Where deemed appropriate the IOC may elect several cities, or other entities, such as regions, states or countries, as host of the Olympic Games.
And instead of the current rules that “all sports competitions … must, in principle, take place in the host city” (Rule 34) and “the OCOG shall provide an Olympic Village” (Rule 38), there would be amendments allowing more flexibility to maximise the use of existing sports or other infrastructures and for more than one Olympic Village.
Reverting now to the potential for, and prospects of, an Australian candidature for 2032.
The AOC has for some time now been reminding its member National Sports Federations and Australian capital cities that since Melbourne hosted the 1956 Games in November/December and Sydney the 2000 Games in September/October, the IOC has determined that in principle the summer Games be held in July/August.
The U.S. Broadcast Rightsholder, NBC has contracted to pay, for the territory of America alone, around USD2.3 billion per Olympic quadrennium including the current, through to 2032.
This is by far the largest of all Olympic broadcast rights payments and constitutes around 40% of total Olympic revenue. It is because of this revenue and the long-term contracts the IOC has with its worldwide Olympic sponsor partners, that President Bach was able to inform Councillor Adrian Shrinner, as Chair of the Council of Mayors of SEQ, and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk when he met with them here in Queensland early last month, that any candidature for 2032 can be assured of a USD1.8 billion contribution from the IOC towards its operational budget.
On the basis that SEQ is the only significant region, and Queensland the only State in Australia with all three of the requisite climate, population and sporting infrastructure to host a summer Games in July/August, the AOC gave its in-principle support for a Games in SEQ and for a feasibility study into hosting them.
Given the importance of regional transport, a parallel study has been completed – the SEQ Regional Strategic Transport Roadmap – which study examines the long-term needs of the region and does not focus on Games hosting arrangements.
A comprehensive Olympic Games Feasibility study was delivered to the Queensland Government and the AOC in February of this year and has been the subject of much positive media and public commentary.
In summary, the Olympic Games Feasibility study concluded that:
- much of the necessary sports venue infrastructure already exists;
- current and proposed transport projects are needed to address the region’s growth, and will guarantee a significant economic legacy before the Games begin in terms of employment and growth;
- no Games-specific expenditure is required;
- initial financial planning indicates the Games will be cost-neutral to SEQ;
- there are significant legacy opportunities and no apparent disadvantages to the regional approach, which also includes the potential for preliminary competition rounds for team events in sports such as football, hockey, basketball and volleyball being held in Cairns and Townsville where there is already a strong history and culture in these sports; and
- as appears in The Courier-Mail’s polling, there is strong community support for the Games and related legacies, particularly their encouragement for children to practise sport.
I am conscious that today is a tourism-focus lunch and you have already heard from Queensland’s tourism leaders.
My comments will be limited to recent Olympic experience in Brazil which saw a record number of 6.6 million international tourists in 2016 boosted by the Olympics, an increase of 4.8% on the previous year.
In 2013, when Tokyo was elected to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games, in-bound tourism topped 10 million, having taken a hit from the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. Since then there has been a sharp increase in in-bound tourism on the back of rapid growth in many Asian economies, the depreciation of the yen, and the Government easing visa requirements for tourists from South-East Asia and more flights to Japan by low-cost carriers. In-bound tourists are expected to number 35.5 million this year and the Government says it’s targeting to increase the number to 40 million in 2020 when Tokyo will host the Games.
Once an Olympic city, always an Olympic city, and an attraction to conference organisers and individual visitors.
What needs to happen next is for the Queensland Government to commission an economic assessment based on the plan outlined in the Olympic Games Feasibility study.
The study proposes a Leaders Group of the Premier of Queensland, Brisbane Lord Mayor on behalf of CoMSEQ and the President of the AOC. This Leaders Group would be responsible for setting the vision and Games concept to guide the economic assessment and subsequent work. This is a major task and will include reviewing the Olympic Village(s) and venue master plan options and associated costs, all Games operational cost assumptions and Government services costs across all three levels of Government.
It is assumed that CoMSEQ and the State Government will continue ongoing discussions with the Federal Government in regard to long-term urban and infrastructure investments for SEQ which need to be undertaken in any event and are not Games driven.
It is clear from the parallel Games Feasibility and SEQ Regional Strategic Transport studies that the Federal Government infrastructure investments are critical.
Conversely, it is also clear that with these infrastructure investments, an Olympic and Paralympic Games in SEQ is feasible and likely to generate significant opportunity for substantial economic and community benefits.
As a Sydney-sider, let me congratulate you. Queensland is on a roll – Ash Barty and your State of Origin I win - in just the last week.
Australia and Queensland have the proven capability to host major sports events, including the Olympic and Commonwealth Games.
The 2032 Olympic Games is there to win. I hope you will give it serious consideration.